➢ THE MENU above leads you deeper into the history of this Aladdin’s Cave of 80s gems.
➢ THE BLOG POSTS on the front page offer topical updates which also link to the deeper history pages.
➢ THE SIDEBAR LINKS will broaden your worldview in all manner of ways.
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Defining the Swinging Eighties
Because the people who write the MUSIC historY BOOKS usually weren’t there
“If we recast the 80s as a subcultural timeline, the ‘decade’ actually spanned six years. They began in June 1978 when David Bowie’s world tour hit the UK – rallying dispossessed punks and kindred music-loving nomads who came to recognise they were not alone.
“These Eighties ended in Dec 1984 with what remained for 13 years the biggest-selling single in UK pop-chart history, Do They Know It’s Christmas? This was an unprecedented act of charity through collaboration by 47 members of rival bands calling themselves Band Aid, who had risen on the same post-punk wave. They raised millions for the Ethiopian famine.
“Crucially, Band Aid confirmed a new British pop establishment of musical innovators. And coincidentally, it laid the foundations for Live Aid, the globally mounted fund-raising concert held in July 1985 and watched by 400 million viewers, across 60 countries.”
About Shapers of the 80s
❏ Except where specifically attributed to others, all text on this website is the work of David Johnson, a journalist based in London, who learnt his trade under the gifted and demanding editor Charles Wintour (yes, indeed, father of Anna) on the world’s most stimulating metropolitan newspaper, the Evening Standard (founded 1827) which had previously been credited with helping shape the Swinging Sixties. In the Seventies the Standard published six editions a day, six days a week, and was circulated throughout greater London, to Britain’s major provincial cities and a dozen international capitals.
As a staffer at the Standard by day, Johnson edited a column on young London called On The Line, named after Eddy Grant’s 1979 hit Living On The Front Line. By night, while freelancing for the edgy new magazines The Face and New Sounds New Styles, his forays into Britain’s gregarious world of youth culture yielded such unrepeatable reportage that it soon made sense to carry a camera and snap for the moment. The results established his monthly review of UK nightlife in those style magazines long before there were enough club-nights to warrant listings in city events guides. Simultaneously our hack was also moonlighting and editing the twice-weekly music pages of a national newspaper which shall remain nameless, but was shrewd enough to dedicate one of those pages to dance music.
Evidently, for about five years, he didn’t get much sleep but did produce the stuff you find online here today. All of which would, let’s hope, meet with Charles’s liberal-minded expectations. His catchphrase was: “Ferchrissakegetitright!” Do feel free to disagree with this previously untold slice of subcultural history. Johnson couldn’t be everywhere at once.
What’s hot at Shapers of the 80s
➢ Now in its seventh year, Shapers of the 80s has attracted a total of 1,364,000 views since its launch, according to year-ending stats measured by our host, WordPress, at the end of 2016. Sadly the death of David Bowie in January marked our biggest ever monthly audience of 43,000 visits since the death of Steve Strange in the previous year. If Shapers of the 80s is about any individuals at all, David and Steve are the heroes who shaped that decade like few others
➢ By 2015, one key feature had emerged as the most widely read of all. The Making of Club Culture explains the uniquely British explosion in creative nightlife during the first years of the 80s – much enhanced since my original research was first published as the cover story for The Face No 34
WHEN NICK KNIGHT IMMORTALISED
THE SHAPERS OF AN ERA
HISTORIAN CALLS SHAPERS OF THE 80S “INVALUABLE”
❏ Shapers of the 80s is declared an “invaluable website” by historian Dominic Sandbrook, author of the rich new cultural analysis, Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974–1979. We report how Sandbrook gives generous credit to key influencers on youth culture. His unstuffy combination of high and low life energised the BBC2 series The Seventies aired in 2012.
❏ Elsewhere at Shapers of the 80s, telly don Simon Schama succinctly expresses why we should document the “irreverent freedom” that is a special aspect of life in Britain.
CORRECTIONS AND COPYRIGHT
❏ If you wish to correct anything you think is wrong on this site then please mail to contact [a t] shapersofthe80s.com
All text on this site, except where otherwise attributed
© 1978–2017 Shapersofthe80s. All rights reserved.
If you wish to quote from text here, please attribute it to the source, like this:
[Quoted from Shapersofthe80s.com]
❏ This not-for-profit website respects copyright, and where possible will always try to seek permission and give credit to a photographer’s work. If you see any images here to which you own the rights and wish them to be removed, you have only to ask.
❏ Whenever you recycle any picture for your own use, always credit the photographer. That way you help advertise their talent and maintain their reputation. The internet has made it almost impossible to collect the reproduction fees they are entitled to. In the past many have depended on those fees for their livelihood.
WITHOUT WHOM… ETC
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